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August 2017
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Miami Hurricanes start spring practice to improve on 9-4 record

It has been several weeks now since the University of Miami football team was upset in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando by number 24 Wisconsin.

The 2010 spring football practices have started for The “Canes” as fourth year head coach Randy Shannon is trying to get his team back to the days of national championship caliber, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991 and 2001.

Spring practice will also get Miami ready for their non-conference schedule of Florida A & M on Sept. 2, at Ohio State on Sept. 11, At Pittsburgh on Sept. 23 and South Florida on Nov. 27.

The Hurricanes other mission is to find the number 2 QB behind starter Jacory Harris. Harris has a hand injury and will participate in some non-throwing drills. The candidates for the backup spot includes: A.J. Highsmith and incoming freshman Stephen Morris.

Coach Shannon says that Highsmith, who played in just three games in 2009, entered camp with a slight dege on Morris, who enrolled last month after graduating from Monsignor Pace High School in Miami.

In other College Football News

The Alabama Crimson Tide has been picked to win back-to-back national championships, early odds are suggesting. The Birmingham News is reporting at 7-2 odds, Nick Saban’s team are the heavy favorites to win the 2010 national title.

The other top contenders include: Ohio State 13-2, Boise State 12-1, Oregon 12-1, Texas 14-1, Nebraska 15-1, USC 15-1, Florida 16-1, Virginia Tech 17-1, Oklahoma 18-1, TCU 18-1, Iowa 20-1, LSU 25-1, Miami 25-1 and Penn State 25-1.

Miami Hurricanes (UM)

Led by Nick Sales, Defiance College rolls in Heartland Conference

Barberton O., native Nick Sales has been one of the leaders for the Defiance College Yellow Jackets this season. He leads the team with 374 points or 15 ppg as a senior forward in Sports Management.

Defiance plays in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference with Anderson, Hanover, Manchester, Transylvania, Franklin, Mt. St. Joseph, Rose-Hulman and arch-rival Bluffton.

The past three games, Sales has led the Yellow Jackets to wins over Bluffton, 70-60 last Wednesday, 73-60 over Franklin on Saturday and Tuesday February 23 another win over Franklin, 92-78 in the conference tournament.

The Bluffton game marked the final regular season home contest for Defiance College’s six-man senior group, as Sales,  Mike Floyd,

Nick Sales Defiance (DC)

Eric Stolly, Nate Conley, Josh Stuckey and Heath Armstrong improved to 73-31 during their four years at the northwest Ohio school.

Seles now has over 1,300 points for his career and became the fifth player in DC history with at least 1,200 points and 800 rebounds in a career. The Yellow Jackets are 21-5 overall, 11-1 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Defiance has advanced to the conference tournament semi-finals on Friday at 6 p.m. vs. number 2 seed Hanover.

NFL DRAFT: 2010 Class loaded with potential first round picks

This year’s NFL draft is scheduled for April 23 and for the first time ever, it’ll be a three-day event.

There will be several players wishing and hoping their name will be called in the first round. Only 32 will have that dubious distinction. Included in that list is Illinois WR Aurrelious Benn.

Benn was the favorite receiver of Illimois QB  Juice Williams. The numbers from his final college season would suggest he is not worthy of the first round: 38 catches, 490 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those low numbers were more of the fact that Illinois’ offensive line didn’t give it’s quarterbacks time to get the ball down the field and not that Benn unachieved.  Plus, he also played on a sore ankle which was injured early in the season. If he had played on a better team, say Ohio State, Texas, Alabama or Penn State, he would’ve caught more than 70 balls and had more than 10 scores.

Most NFL Scouts like Benn and his potential and something you can’t coach or teach, speed. They also Benn’s size (6’2, 225), and showed excellent hands in college.

Benn needs a fantastic combine to convince teams he can make an early impact in his rookie season. If  Benn accomplishes this, there are several NFL teams that need a wide receiver of his caliber in the first round: 49ers (16th), the Ravens (25th), and the Jets (29th).  A poor combine means he would drop anywhere from second round through the 3rd.

Aurrelious Benn breaks a tackle (UI)

Team USA defeats Canada in Olympic Classic

I sat down last night and flipped on the USA-Canada Olympic Hockey Game on MSNBC?! (we’ll get to that later) with every intention of taking notes for today’s column about Ohio State’s gigantic win Sunday afternoon in the Breslin Center over Tom Izzo, Sparty & Co. when something strange happened.

I got absolutely no work done.

Transfixed by the most engaging sporting event since Tiger’s press conference, I found myself completely engrossed in Olympic hockey Sunday evening. The underdog Americans defeated Canada in Olympic hockey for the first time since many, many decades before I was born and it truly made for fantastic television. 

En route to a 5-3 win Sunday night over Canada, Team USA was outshot 45-23, including 14-4 during a third period barrage from the Canadians as they tried desperately to even the score. Even so, Canada was unable to deliver the knock-out blow to goaltender Ryan Miller who was magnificent, stopping 42 shots.

And when Ryan Kesler added an empty-netter at the 19:16 mark of the final period, the decidedly pro-Canada crowd was left completely shell-shocked.

The good news got even better for the Americans after last night’s late-game when Sweden defeated Finland, 3-0, giving the Americans the top seed in the entire tournament. Consequently, Team USA gets a bye into the quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon when it will take on either Belarus or Switzerland–the same team that took Canada into a shootout in the second game of the preliminary round last week.

A day short of the 30th Anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” and donning duds nearly identical to those worn by the ’80 team, the Americans played  an inspired brand of hockey we have not seen since the last time the Team USA took gold in the Olympics, at Lake Placid.

The similarities don’t end there, either. 

Often referred to as young, inexperienced kids the 1980 team was littered with college students with no professional experience playing in their very first Olympic Games. Though much is often made about the fact the U.S. Olympic Hockey Confederation now uses NHL players to fill its international rosters, the reality of the situation is the average player on the 2010 edition of Team USA is 26 years old and 20 of the 23 players on the squad have no Olympic experience whatsoever.

There’s more, American defenseman Ryan Suter is the son of Bob Suter, who was a defenseman on the 1980 team and defenseman Brooks Orpik is said to be named after Herb Brooks–the head coach of the “Miracle on Ice” team; my goodness, the similarities are endless. 

Perhaps even more impressively, in 1980 the Americans were playing on home ice and thus served as the darlings of the dance. Last night Team USA, playing in rival Canada, was treated to a level hostility not unlike when American soccer plays in Mexico City.

I don’t want to get too carried away. After all, this wasn’t even a medal game and it certainly wasn’t the “Miracle on Ice” but last night’s contest was nothing short of classic.

How classic? Yanks versus Canucks made me switch the focus of this column from the aforementioned Buckeyes road win at Michigan State yesterday, which is saying quite a bit because that was an extremely important victory for Ohio State. 

By defeating the Spartans Sunday afternoon, the Buckeyes grab firm hold of second-place in the Big Ten with three pretty-winnable games remaining on their regular season schedule. Ohio State remains a game behind fourth-ranked Purdue for Big Ten supremacy, but the Boilers still have to travel to tournament-minded Minnesota and host Michigan State.

The Buckeyes hit the road to face Penn State Wednesday night before coming home to play Michigan Saturday afternoon. The Buckeyes then host Illinois a week from tomorrow in the conference finale.

In retrospect, perhaps it was a bit presumptuous to expect Ohio State to go 3-0 at Illinois, home to Purdue and at MSU as I did. To escape that little gauntlet 2-1 with road victories in Champagne and East Lansing, a season-split with the Boilermakers and the tie-breaker against Michigan State is actually quite good.

photo: Sports Illustrated

To finish 3-0 the rest of the way would ensure Ohio State no worse than a second-place conference finish and if Purdue stubs its toe down the stretch, the Bucks could even wind up with a share of the conference crown.

It was a tremendous victory for the Buckeyes yesterday afternoon. On a day when Evan Turner was forced to play with flu-like symptoms and was therefore not himself and both post-players, Kyle Madsen and Dallas Lauderdale, were plagued with foul trouble the Buckeyes were able to hang on for the victory. Nevermind the fact they blew an 11-point halftime lead and trailed by a point with three minutes to play.

That’s how big Team USA’s win over Team Canada was last night. It was one for the ages, for the record books, a true Olympic classic that you may one day tell your kids about–as long as you had access to cable television.

Let us all in unison give a hearty “do better!” to NBC for failing to air last night’s classic nationally on its network.

Holy crap, MSNBC?! What a joke. Though, Keith Olbermann isn’t bad.

Ring. Ring.

Nate: Hello?

Nate’s lawyer: Nate! You don’t want to make political jokes in your columns. You’ll end up systematically alienating your entire readership, including your mother, sisters and future in-laws.

Nate: Whatever. Only like five people read me, anyways.

If I’m NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman right now, I ain’t too happy. C’mon, you have a television contract with NBC, last night’s game was almost exclusively NHL players, as a league you’ve worked tirelessly trying to restore your image and get people watching the game again and the network doesn’t air the game nationally. Not a good effort out of NBC in that regard.

Other than that glaring error, the telecast was quite good. Mike Emrick is perhaps the best play-by-play guy on television regardless of sport. He’s absolutely brilliant and you should check out Olympic hockey if for no other reason than to listen to Mike Emrick call the game. It’s pure poetry.

Fortunately, the Olympic hockey action is just heating up and the top-seeded Americans are in fine position to play for a gold medal. Heck, it’s not inconceivable they could rematch with Canada. If that happens, maybe NBC will air the game nationally.

Luck puts Jimmie Johnson back in winners’ circle

The race fans at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., saw Nascar’s  Jimmie Johnson turn a possible loss into a win but he did have some luck along the way.

His break came because he was already in the pits when a late caution flag came out. His pit crew finished their work and Johnson passed the scoring line at the end of pit road before Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick were able to cross the start line.

That split second kept Johnson on the lead lap and allowed him to regain the lead when everybody else pitted under yellow when Brad Keselowski spun in turn 4. Johnson maintained his lead the final 20 laps after the restart.

After winning his unprecedented fourth consecutive Sprint Cup championship in 2009,   the Loews #48 Chevrolet team finished 35th in the Daytona 500.

Johnson rebounded to lead for 101 laps and won with an average of 141.911 mph.

Jimmie Johnson (AP)

Next Sunday, Nascar moves into it’s 3rd race of the young season, The Sprint Cup Shelby American at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Race time is at 3 p.m. on Fox.

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